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Tears of the Mystic Rose
Commentary from Sannyasnews Editor
Swami Anand Parmartha

This book published in January, 08, by an Indian disciple of Osho, who is somewhat confusingly called Rajneesh, (and who is not a relative of Osho), carries a paradoxical and poetic title. (This incidentally is not a conventional book in any sense, as it reads from a vertical rather than horizontal script.)

What of the title, well, it seems to be indicative of a certain sadness in the face of the experience that Rajneesh suffered at the hands of ashram authorities throughout his life as an Osho sannyasin, and what he sees as the current betrayal of Osho's legacy by the Osho International elite.

And what of the book, well, it is in many ways a well-intended documentation of the life of the author, in particular his life as an Osho sannyasin over a 27 year long period. In fact over the years since he was impelled towards Poona as a young man back in 1981 (just before Osho left for the USA) Rajneesh was in many ways very “drawn” to life within Osho’s ashram, and particularly drawn to Osho’s physical presence. Unlike many, however, he was not drawn to the notion of work as meditation, of which he could be said to be rightly sceptical, after all the Nazis famously said that work would make you free… at the front of their concentration camps!

Rajneesh was born into a very privileged background, his mother was a Bollywood movie star and his father a rich industrialist, and whilst their marriage was stable he seemed to have enjoyed the usual fruits of such seeming luck, excelling at games, and enjoying a very good education in a Darjeeling public school. The shock of his parent’s separation when he was 15, and the subsequent early death of his mother were the seminal events in propelling the young Rajneesh into self-examination and the spiritual path at an early age.

Rajneesh, who was over the course of his sannyas career banned at least three times by the ashram authorities, was heavily into meditation, and in a sense creating his own way. He seems to have had an unusual early daily routine, on the face of it more akin to a London Notting Hill hippie/squatter sannyasin of the same period, rising after midday, eating frugally, and meditating for many hours a day. Rajneesh was into vipassana walking and sitting, he liked to start off with a bit of movement by doing the Osho kundalini meditation after he got up, but thereafter…

There was a problem with his vipassana walking around the ashram as his walking was as slow as it needed to be, and a minority found this egotistical behaviour. Once a vipassana group leader seems to have been instructed to follow him with her group around the ashram and make fun of what she took to be his inauthenticity. Rajneesh in his self-report won the day when people falied to follow the deliberate difficult path he choose to take. I don’t feel from reading his book that his intense interest in vipassana was inauthentic. However the fact that he choose to do it around a busy ashram might seem “difficult”. It is clear that the ashram authorities felt that he was somehow suffering from non-compliance and banned him on a number of occasions, but it can also be said that they took him back, so it seems, after cooling off periods.

Sadly on at least two occasions Rajneesh according to his own report was beaten up by other sannyasins in Poona. This seems totally unacceptable. Rajneesh was not choosing to be in an encounter group, and to bring the mores of such groups into the street can be said to be rather typical of a minority of authoritarian, group and/or administrator orientated sannyasins at the time. It was frankly an attitude I also felt in Pune one and the communes 81–85. It always felt “off” and banally elitist to me, and I lived my own rich life as I experienced it at that time very much in spite of it, rather than because of it.

On the other hand I do find Rajneesh’s resistance to doing dynamic meditation, and at least tasting the therapeutic groups, a little closed — for whatever reason — to methods his Master obviously felt of great value.

There are, by contrast, some beautiful anecdotes of Rajneesh’s devotion to Osho. One in particular stays with me. Once banned from the ashram he got himself a room in the Sunderban hotel next to the ashram and sat himself in the garden there at lecture time, in a place which actually was just a few yards from where Osho was talking. Furthermore the anecdote demonstrates further ashram totalitarianism. One day when taking his normal place for discourse he suddenly realised that a number of ashram guards were spying him from the wall and gesticulating wildly for him to leave the area, though the Sunderban was a private hotel independent of the ashram. Rajneesh shouted back and was heard in the assembly. According to Rajneesh when Osho learned of what was behind the story, he told the guards to leave Rajneesh alone.

The author wrote this book “as a mysterious story to inspire fellow travellers”, and I think it does this in one very clear sense. It shows the sheer determination and battle with the self that he went through as a disciple, and this can inspire others, for unless every effort is made the place of effortlessness can never be reached. On the other hand, quite a lot of the text “describes” the mental states of increasing bliss on a succession of occasions that Rajneesh interprets as satori or even samadhi experiences. I wonder, and sincerely, what not only Rajneesh but how many others respond, when asked the time-honoured and beautiful statement that “enlightenment is not an experience”, for all these bliss attacks are experiential.

The author has been subjected to considerable criticism by conventional western disciples for using the name Rajneesh. Why for example does he choose to use the name Rajneesh. Well, it may be difficult to believe but it is clear from his book that the author's birth name was Rajnish. The author's sannyas name was Swami Rajnish Bharti, but then some sannyasins in the ashram began to call him Rajneesh. There were hundreds of complaints about this to Osho. Osho's response was that typical of a great Master: he mysteriously and mischievously changed his name from rajnish to rajneesh !!! The old zen master certainly knew how to push people's buttons!  Of course there are other questions, like why does he seemingly imitate the torso presentation of the early 1960’s Osho? And of course the unspoken deliberation, does he see himself as a “successor” of Osho, when Osho himself said he did not have any successors.

Whatever the answers to such questions, let's be clear that he is not alone in imitative behaviour amongst sannyasins who have become teachers, for example Tyohar’s speech and dress often seems imitative to me of Osho, Maitreya’s commune seems to have a structure very similar to Poona One. Arun seems to have a presentation very similar to the early Osho, including the formal giving of sannyas, Chaitanya Bharti (Gurudev) seems imitative of Osho in many ways, Dave Oshana has also choosen an imitative name. However like Rajneesh whilst it may deter some, it does not neccessarily belie their sincerity and love of their Master, and that they can help others along the path.

Rajneesh himself, like many others, seems very upset in some moods by the ongoing sagas in the Pune Resort. Like them in a minor way I have also had my own run-ins with Osho International. However the major point that sometimes seems to be forgotten on all sides is that Osho himself was constantly evolving, and frankly despite the bad manners of some of the Osho International elite, it is not clear to me that Osho would not have changed everything around within the organisation and in Pune — had he lived. He might not have changed things in the same way as Osho International, but change would have happened, and change itself is the key. I know this is not Rajneesh's view, but it needs to be said as ballast to the discussion.

I certainly can recommend reading Rajneesh's book. For those like myself who are long-time disciples then it can act as a reminder of good and bad times past, and engender the heightening of reflective powers. For those who never knew Osho it can act as a spur to self-discovery, and it captures the flavour of past periods well, the excitements of meeting Osho for the first time, the love of the Master, the joys and parameters of ashram life, and the controls! I believe that Rajneesh is sincere in bringing this book to the attention of the world, and also that his main motivation is, as he himself says, to “inspire fellow travellers”. In this he succeeds.

Parmartha (March, 08)